Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Gail Bass


Adolescent; Child; Down Syndrome -- rehabilitation; Life Change Events


Parents of a child born with Down syndrome often have concerns about their child’s education, ability to live independently outside of the home, gain employment and have a means to support themselves, and their participation in social events within the community. Concerns also arise when parents are unsure about what professional will address these issues and help support their child in development. Occupational therapy is a unique discipline that offers a number of services to children with disabilities in the school system. These services begin at the age of 3 and continue until the child graduates or turns 21 and leaves the school system.

Upon an initial review of literature, it was found that there are very few programs that are focused and designed exclusively for children with Down syndrome. There are numerous programs designed to offer services to children with autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, and other diagnosis affecting development. A further more extensive literature review found that there are many occupational therapists working within the school systems, however the majority of therapists are providing services to younger children and pre-school age children. Fewer occupational therapists were found to be involved in transition planning of adolescents, which is a crucial transition period for these individuals to adult life.

Occupational therapists can play a vital role in this transition process; however the knowledge and skills of occupational therapists are not being used to the maximum potential. The product of this project was the development of a manual that includes protocols to help occupational therapists establish a program that addresses transitional needs of adolescents with a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

The methodology for the development of this program manual consisted of an extensive review of current literature and resources, and exploration for current programs designed for this specific population. The manual contains a series of protocols with activities designed to help children with Down syndrome develop the necessary life skills in order to live independently.

This manual was designed for use by occupational therapists working within the school system. The protocols within the manual can be used to guide the therapist through a program that will help adolescents with Down syndrome develop life skills. The protocols were designed to cover four life skill areas with one area covered during each one of the four nine week grading periods of a school year; the therapist would meet with the student group on a weekly basis. The life skill areas included in the manual are: Employment, Home and Financial Management, Cooking, and Social Participation. The activity protocols include task descriptions, materials needed, and a step by step guide for the group session and activity.